Top Tips for Self Driving in Namibia
Featuring incredible scenery, wide-open roads and fascinating wildlife, there’s fewer places in the world better than Namibia for travellers seeking off-the-beaten track adventures.
For some holidaymakers, booking a guided safari tour around this enchanting South-west African nation is a great option; for others, particularly those who prefer being masters of their own destiny, nothing quite beats exploring this country in the comfort of your own vehicle.
If you value the freedom of renting your own set of wheels and creating your very own self-drive itinerary, a Namibia self-drive tour is an exciting and deeply rewarding experience.
Although the vast majority of roads in Namibia are well maintained and easy to navigate, there are a few things you need to keep in mind, however.
Before you fill up your tank and head out on what promises to be a truly unforgettable road trip, make sure you check out our top tips for self-driving in Namibia below:
Watch out for the wildlife
If you’ve never visited Namibia before you may be forgiven for thinking that the wildlife roam exclusively in the national parks. However, that’s far from the case and you’ll likely encounter plenty of animals as you drive through the country.
Locals will testify that it’s not uncommon to encounter leopards- or even cheetahs- that hunt on private farmland, whilst you may also spot oryx and giraffes, the latter of which are renowned for gorging on trees at the side of the road.
Whenever you are driving in Namibia always stay alert and look far ahead to identify any animals that could potentially run into your path. If you encounter any wildlife blocking the road, slow down and wait for them to past. Safety first is always the priority.
Check if you need a permit
If you’re planning to drive through most of Namibia’s national parks, then permits can be bought at the entrance gate and you don’t need to provide any advance notice prior to arrival.
For the Namib-Naukluft National Park and the Dorob National Park, although the main roads, including C28, D1982 and C14, do not require permits, if you want to access the minor roads around this region then you will need a permit in advance.
Permits are issued by the NVR offices in Sesriem or they can be obtained at any of the Ministry of Environment and Tourism offices, including ones in Windhoek and Swakopmund.
Leave your headlights switched on
Navigating the often-sandy roads of Namibia is an incredible experience but one thing to be aware of is that dust clouds can puff up at any time, meaning you must keep your headlights on whenever you are driving.
This measure was introduced so that any vehicles obstructed by dust plumes behind you can see the rear of your car. It’s also important to keep your headlights on so that cars in front of you can clearly see you coming at all times.
Allow plenty of time for your journey
Apps like Google maps do a fairly good job estimating approximate journey times, but they are not perfect at all. Most of the time, the length of your journey will depend on the type of vehicle you drive, whether that’s a 4x4 or two-wheel drive.
Another important thing to note is that the quality of the roads can change throughout your journey. Some parts of your drive my be over a flat gravel track, allowing you to put your foot down. At other times, the road surface will become more unpredictable.
Always ensure you allow plenty of time to get to your destination, it’s not a race, and try to set off in the morning so you’re not left driving at night.
Stick to driving during the day
Away from the large towns, driving in Namibia at night is not generally recommended given that there are no streetlights and potholes/uneven surfaces can be very difficult to spot.
Additionally, some animals tend to hunt at night and generally tend to more active when the temperatures are cooler. Animals such as antelope have been known to spring into the path of headlights, which could pose a huge risk to both you and the animals. Be safe and stick to driving during the daytime.
Locate the Petrol Stations
Petrol stations in Namibia are dotted all around the country and finding a place to pull over and fill up your tank, particularly if you’re in and around one of the large towns like Windhoek, should be relatively easy.
However, the further you venture out to some of the more remote, desolate regions of the country, particularly by the Skeleton coat, you may encounter some issues.
Before you set off on a journey, particularly if it’s going to take several hours, always plan where you will stop to get fuel. The last thing you want is to run out on arid stretch of road with nothing surrounding you for miles.
A good rule of thumb to follow is to fill up whenever you can and try not to let your tank drop below half-full.
Stick to the Road
Namibia is a dry, desolate country, and although the gravel roads are well maintained and easy to drive on, it’s important to note that if you head off the gravel track, even slightly, you could encounter some difficulties
If you need to stop or pull over, even if you’re driving a 4x4 or other well- equipped vehicle, avoid coming completely off the road- just stick to the gravelled section. The last thing you want is to be stuck in the stand!
Pack the essentials
Whenever you embark on a drive in Namibia it’s important to ensure you have packed all the essential items you need for your trip. Be sure to pack plenty of water and snacks, and make sure you have some breakdown/safety tools with you.
Flashlights, a spare wheel, a paper map, and warm clothes are all generally advised; plan for the worst but expect the best!
Is it Easy to Self-Drive in Namibia?
Self-driving in Namibia should not be difficult or complicated for most experienced drivers, just be sure to keep in mind some of the tips that we have mentioned above.
Remember to avoid animals, take things at your own pace, and stick to driving in the daytime. For more information about self-driving in Namibia, including details about our incredible self-drive tour packages, please get in touch with Secret Namibia today.